During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, February 12, 2017
Texas appears to be preparing to approve a bill “…barring states from funding companies who choose to boycott Israel.” They would be the 18th state to pass such a bill. Support for the bill comes from various faith groups and political organizations. Supporters have stated, “withholding funds from companies who refuse to do business with Israel upholds the state’s anti-discrimination laws based on national origin.” The Texas bill is unique in that it defines no minimum threshold. Organizers state, “Passing it would make all pro-BDS companies unable to receive state funds.” Critics of the bill claim it infringes on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech. However, the bill’s supporters note, “the bill places no restrictions on private financial decision-making, but only on state allocation of funds.” The law has widespread support and is expected to pass during the legislative session.
The Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2017
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump held their first face-to-face meeting on February 14th. They discussed a variety of key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the potential move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The article notes, “The summit comes at a crucial time in the longstanding partnership between the US and its friends and allies in Israel as the last few acts of the Obama administration’s feckless foreign policy threatened Israel’s sovereignty.” Citing support in the US for such a move, the article calls upon Christian supporters of Israel to urge the government “…to continue on this bold path and support the embassy move.” It describes a petition organized by StandUnited.org the purpose of which is to ask “…the U.S. State Department to respect Israel’s sovereignty and stop the enemies of freedom in the region and around the world from threatening Israel.”
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, February 12, Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2017
The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha reopened at a ceremony and special mass on February 12th after undergoing extensive restoration. The article noted that the church had been “badly damaged” by Jewish arsonists on June 17th, 2015. Police characterized the incident as a hate crime, but the article noted, “the government dragged its heels in paying the monies promised towards the restoration.” The Finance Ministry was “reluctant to accept that the crime was in fact nationalistic.” Although the Justice Ministry ordered the payments to be made and two young Orthodox Jews were charged with the crime in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, “the charge sheet for the primary suspect saying he was motivated by a hatred for Christianity”- the $394,000 compensation figure was inadequate. The article noted German Christians “organized a crowd-funding campaign in Germany which allowed the restoration to be completed.”
Present at the ceremony were President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne, Dr. Clemens von Goetze, Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Moafaq Tarif and Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, founder of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. “On my last visit here, we stood together and looked at the burnt walls and the terrible graffiti on the walls,” said Rivlin. “Today, I visit here again and see the restoration of this historic, unique and holy site, and would like to say clearly: hatred cannot win. Our lives are involved with each other, we are all equal before God and before the law.”
Gal-Gefen Rehovot, February 9, 2017
A delegation of donors from Japan from the Bridges for Peace organization recently visited the local council in Kiryat Ekron, having contributed a computer lab and a smart blackboard to the Ben-Tzvi school in the town. The group met with city officials, visited the school’s museum and met schoolchildren as well.
The article noted, “Bridges for Peace is an organization of Bible-believing Christians who support Israel. The organization works to foster connections between Christians and Jews all over the world by education and help to the other.” The connection between the organization and the Kiryat Ekron community center began some three years ago, with food donations to needy families as well as a sponsorship program designed to support elementary schoolchildren “…with homework, schoolbook subsidies, birthday celebrations and a hot lunch for 30 students.”
Israel Hayom, HaModia, February 16, 2017
These articles detail new and intriguing finds discovered in recent archaeological excavations around Israel. The first of these is an ancient snail shell found during at the Temple Mount Sifting Project in Emek Tzurim. Although the shell is still undergoing analysis, researcher are intrigued by its presence. Jewish sages described a snail, the shell of which was used for dying the blue thread in prayer shawls. Another intriguing find is a large stone threshold, including evidence of a locking mechanism, at Beit Shearim. This was the seat of the Sanhedrin and particularly of chief Mishnah redactor Rabbi Judah the Prince in the second century CE. This find is unique, as towns of this kind were rarely surrounded by a wall. Researchers surmise that the unique fortifications may have been due to the fact that rich and noted leaders resided in the town.
Haaretz, February 17, 2017
The Herodian Stepped Street continued to draw stiff controversy from archaeologists both within and without the Israel Antiquities Authority. Most of the controversy appears to relate to the unconventional method of digging, as it was done from the side, rather than from the top down. In addition, insufficient care appears to have been taken for the preservation of some of the artifacts found on the site. Further, several cave-ins have happened. Critics say these are due to the iron girders supporting the top of the tunnel street not being strong enough. They also say that the shops and tourist attractions planned on the site would not only insufficiently reconstruct a Roman Cardo but “would cause fast deterioration of the artifacts on the site.” The documents showing the controversy were made public as a result of a request for information made by the Emek Shaveh archaeologists’ organization.